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Freak weather chaos strikes Middle East as extreme Arctic snowstorm blasts entire region
February 19, 2021
Jordan: Middle East blanketed in rare heavy snowfall
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Freezing Arctic conditions have sparked chaos in the Middle East as freak weather wreaks havoc across the region. Lebanon, Israel, Turkey and Syria are among those that have been submerged in snowfall as temperatures continue to plummet. The rare Middle Eastern snow storm has led to mass roads closures, with many areas experiencing the first snowfall in a decade.
Jordan was even forced to suspend its coronavirus vaccination rollout due to the severe weather.
The country’s prime minister Bishr al-Khasawneh announced that Thursday would be an official holiday for the public and private sector due to the snow storm.
Osama al-Tarifi, director of the operating room of the Arabia Weather site, said at least 20 centimetres of snow has hit Jordan.
In Syria, at least 15cm (6 inches) of snow submerged parts of the country, according to the official state news agency SANA.
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Syria’s University of Damascus was forced to call off its midterm exams scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday across the country because of the extreme weather conditions.
In Israel, snowfall swept across Jerusalem, including the Dome of the Rock, for the first time in several years.
The Israeli Meteorological Service forecast heavy thunderstorms and cold temperatures across much of the country.
Heavy snowfall also covered the Golan Heights near the border with Syria.
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Lebanon was among the hardest hit areas, with the country in the path of Storm Joyce which unleash gale force winds of up to 62mph.
Storm surges submerged coastal areas, and widespread snowfall led to a rare blizzard in the country.
Metereologists blamed the freak Arctic weather conditions on a “weakening” polar vortex that allows Arctic air to come south.
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Similarly unprecedented freezing weather conditions have also hit Texas.
The state suffered a mass power-out after its energy grid was overwhelmed by a surge in demand for heat.
Temperatures plummeted to 30-year lows, hitting -18C earlier this week.
Around 13 million people – around half of the state’s population – have faced some disruption of water services as hundreds of water systems have been damaged by the freeze.